Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/48

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all waterfront workers, railroad freight handlers, ship trimmers, boatmen, bag sewers, involved approximately 28,000 workers. This strike collapsed.

In January, 1888, members of the B. of L. E. and B. of L. F. scabbed on a K. of L. strike on the Philadelphia and Reading R. R., and defeated them. Later, in the same year, when the brotherhood men on the C. B. & Q. struck, the K. of L. retaliated.
The unskilled workers, unable to secure advantages through the K. of L., began to fall away, until in 1891 it was practically liquidated into the People's Party. Another labor organization was laid in a political grave.
158. Was the K. of L. a real labor organization?
Yes. It was developing into a class organization, and would have done so were it not for its weak, if not treacherous, leadership. The Knights of Labor grew to be the champion of the unskilled and semi-skilled workers. It had shortcomings, such as the autonomous District Assemblies, but it was developing towards an industrial form of organization, and would have but for its unsympathetic leadership. These men were handicapped by an overestimate of trades union importance. The rivaly of the A. F. of L. with its rigid forms tempted the K. of L. intellectuals to try to fashion and fit similar organizations within the Knights of Labor where they could not find a congenial atmosphere, and, consequently, could not flourish. The timidity of the K. of L. leadership, instead of making the Haymarket affair a point from which to develop, lost heart and missed a great opportunity. Many of the internationals, now organized in the A. F. of L., owe their origin to the Knights of Labor. It was a splendid organization and won the working class of America and the world an experience that will yet serve it well.
159. What was the International Labor Union?
An organization started in the early part of 1878. This body aimed to unite the working class for the abolition of the wage system. Among other things, it proposed:
"1. The formation of an Amalgamated Union of laborers so that members of any calling can combine under a central head and form a part of the Amalgamated Trades Unions.